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8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Mid-Year Evaluation

Read our mid-year review of the the Timberdoodle 8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Kit, which we received to review. What we loved and what needs changing. Start by reading our initial unboxing post, including my daughter’s perspective.

Timberdoodle 8th Grade Curriculum Mid-Year Assessment

This year we were picked to review one of Timberdoodle’s curriculum kits! Emma picked the non-religious 8th grade kit to review. She’s written her own mid-year review of this kit on her own blog, Maker Emma.

Emma is technically in seventh grade this year, and Timberdoodle’s age recommendations are generally spot-on. But she is pretty good at school, and last year when we followed the sixth grade recommendations she didn’t feel as challenged as she hoped to be. So this year we jumped a grade. Overall it seems a good fit for her.

What Comes In a Timberdoodle Curriculum Kit?

Timberdoodle 8th grade non-religious curriculum

Timberdoodle curriculum kits are designed to provide everything you need to homeschool your child for the year. Curriculum kits include a curriculum handbook to help parents get organized for the year.

Here’s what came in Emma’s curriculum kit

Language Arts Homeschool Curriculum

  • Easy Grammar Ultimate Grade 8 Teacher’s Guide. This book breaks grammar into 10-minute daily lessons. Emma likes the fact that the lessons are pretty short, while also teaching her a lot. She does find the material dry and somewhat tedious.
  • Mosdos Press Literature – Gold – 8th Grade. This has been a huge hit! My fourth grade daughter Lily is also loving the Mosdos Ruby Fourth Grade Language Arts Curriculum. I highly recommend this series as a core language arts curriculum.
  • The Writing with Skill 1 Workbook uses literary excerpts to teach different writing techniques. Emma liked the idea of it, but she says that most of the stories are not very interesting and she doesn’t feel like it’s taught as thoroughly as she would like.
  • Graphic Shakespeare. This graphic novel condenses Hamlet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Romeo and Juliet, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream into illustrated pieces. I’m a fan of reading the original Shakespeare, but I’m fine with this as a companion piece. Emma loves reading the book (I’ve seen her pull it out several times without prompting), but she doesn’t adore the illustration style.
  • Word Roots Level 2. I love this series. The book takes words back to their roots and teaches kids to use their understanding of word roots to figure out the meanings of words. My younger daughter struggled when I used level 1 of this series with her last year, but Emma is a word-loving child. She adores this curriculum.

Mathematics Homeschool Curriculum

My daughter Anna LOVED Math-U-See for kindergarten last year, so I was curious to see what Emma would think. Math-U-See Algebra 1 was a stretch for Emma; she only finished the pre-algebra curriculum she used last year in December of this school year.

The pre-algebra curriculum was very demanding, so I thought she might prefer Math-U-See. I was wrong. Emma says Math-U-See is okay, but she finds the problems boring and some explanations inadequate. We’re mostly using the Algebra book from the Art of Problem Solving series we used last year. Emma finds it challenging, but better explained with more interesting problems.

Science Curriculum

Emma felt excited about Focus on Middle School Astronomy & Geology. We had heard good things about it.

Unfortunately, we aren’t loving it so far. You have to buy extra stuff for a lot of the experiments. I think the text explains things well, but it feels “too young” to my middle schooler.

Overall it’s a very similar experience to our reaction to the level 4 Building Blocks of Science curriculum we reviewed from the same publisher for my 4th grader.

Social Studies Curriculum

People, Places, and Principles of America 1 comes in a big box. It looks like a pretty standard fill in the blanks, facts-learning curriculum, but it is also pretty detailed. I’m curious to see how Emma likes it as the year goes on.

This curriculum is probably the one Emma resists the most this year. We are supplementing with other materials and will look for something different next time.

Engineering Curriculum

This 8th grade curriculum kit has a strong aviation focus, which ties in perfectly with Emma’s interest in someday getting a pilot’s license. Her dad is a third generation pilot, and she wants to carry this tradition onto the fourth generation. s:

  • Intro to Aviation Course. This class teaches the aerodynamics of flight, how to read aviation charts, how navigation works, and so much more. The FAA is forecasting a shortage of people ready to pursue aviation careers, so if your child is interested this is definitely a field to explore. Emma was super excited about this, but the lectures are long and rambling. They include a fair bit about just being responsible and making good decisions – something my daughter does mostly on her own, so far. She would prefer a course that focused more exclusively on building the skills she needs to fly.
  • Mechanics Lab Plans and Helicopters. This lab set teaches kids about propellers, cogs, pulleys, and universal joints as they build 10 different models We haven’t actually opened this yet, so I’ll have to report in detail in our end-of-year post for this series!

Art

Archi-Doodle City Is a fun, relaxing piece of Emma’s eighth grade curriculum kit. Emma was hoping the book would include more of a design element; the focus is on drawing cities rather than designing them. I definitely recommend supplementing your art curriculum beyond this one book.

Critical Thinking

  • Asteroid Escape Smart Game. Emma called this game “adorable”. She finds it pretty challenging – in a fun way. She recommends it as a travel game.

Test Taking Skill Building

Spectrum Test Practice – 8th Grade is your standard fill in the bubble test taking practice book. We haven’t done a lot with this book so far, but will do more as testing time approaches.

Just for Fun

I love that Timberdoodle includes some things that kids consider mostly fun.

  • Extreme Dot-to-Dot: Spectacular Places. This book doubles as a very lightweight social studies curriculum. Emma finds this book fun and relaxing. She loves the little riddles that help you figure out what the picture is.
  • Mixed By Me Thinking Putty also qualifies as an art activity, teaching textures and color mixing. These are things most kids know by 8th grade, but the kit remains fun. The tiny tins in this particular kit can be hard to open once filled.
8th grade homeschool curriculum mid-year review.

We’ll circle back and review this 8th grade curriculum kit from Timberdoodle one more time at the end of the year! What did you think? Is there something you would add or take away? Share recommendations and feedback in the comments below, on my Facebook page, or by tagging me on Instagram

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

5 thoughts on “8th Grade Homeschool Curriculum Mid-Year Evaluation”

  1. It’s interesting to see what Emma is studying in her homeschool curriculum. Some of it is similar to what A’s doing in school (like word roots and Shakespeare), but in A’s school they read genuine Shakespeare and then had to write a literary analysis and a 10-page essay on it. I think A would have enjoyed that engineering curriculum as well. Are you thinking of homeschooling Emma next year or sending her to a high school?

    1. Even though Emma is doing 8th grade curriculum next year, we’ll probably keep her on her age track and send her for 8th grade if she goes to school in the fall. The main reason to send her would be for friends, and all her friends are in 8th grade…

  2. Finding science curriculum that isn’t “too young” feeling can be challenging. I like the look of the boxed kit though – it’s got that attractive “open this and you’ll be smarter” look to it :) We’ve purchased more science kits because they looked that way – I think this place has probably stumbled onto a brilliant marketing concept.

  3. We had similar problems with their geology and astronomy this year, I liked working through Physics last year and aside from one or two projects it worked well. My kids really enjoyed the books after the years of the more difficult Apologia, but the experiments this year have been frustrating.

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